Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread
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1 BP holds breath as pipe cap begins capturing oil
by Allen Johnson, AFP
2 hrs 25 mins ago
|NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – In the first breakthrough in its laborious bid to curb the worst US spill in history, BP said Friday a cap placed on a ruptured pipe was working and should capture most of the oil.
The news came as US President Barack Obama was heading back to the stricken Gulf of Mexico region for his third visit since an explosion tore through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig more than six weeks ago.
Remote-controlled submarines grappled the cap into place over a sawn-off riser pipe nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) below the surface late Thursday — in the latest of several attempts to contain the oil belching into the Gulf.
2 Bid to curb oil spill in ‘hands’ of deepsea robots
by Celine Loubette, AFP
Thu Jun 3, 7:34 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – Deepsea robots in use for three decades in oil exploration are built for demanding tasks, but perhaps none as daunting as the effort to fix the ruptured Gulf of Mexico pipeline, experts said Thursday.
The precision hands of underwater robots successfully sliced through an underwater wellpipe using hydraulic shears and are now set to undertake the task of placing a containment cap over the leak.
The move came Thursday after a diamond-blade saw got stuck Wednesday in the pipe lying a mile (1,600 meters) down on the sea bed, highlighting the complexity of the operation.
3 US job data for May worse than expected
by Andrew Beatty, AFP
Fri Jun 4, 11:15 am ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US economy created fewer jobs than expected last month as jittery firms shied away from rehiring laid-off Americans, official data showed Friday, fueling fears of a jobless recovery.
In figures that fell well below expectations — sending markets across the world plummeting — the Labor Department said 431,000 posts were created in May, most of them temporary government jobs for this year’s census.
Private-sector jobs rose by just 41,000, less than a fifth of the amount predicted by analysts.
4 Obama gets boost in battle against jobless recovery
by Andrew Beatty, AFP
Thu Jun 3, 4:39 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama’s hopes of slashing US unemployment received a boost Thursday as reports showed firms are taking on thousands of new workers, but not enough to shake fears of a jobless recovery.
Facing unemployment levels of close to 10 percent, Obama’s bid to put Americans back to work was bolstered by news that private firms created 55,000 jobs last month, according to payroll firm ADP, the forth straight monthly increase.
Despite the positive trend, the rate of job growth is painfully slow for the White House and the one in ten American workers who are unemployed and continue to stream into government offices asking for help.
5 G20 starts meeting to shore up fragile recovery
by David Watkins, AFP
Fri Jun 4, 10:46 am ET
|BUSAN, South Korea (AFP) – The Group of 20 finance ministers held talks Friday aimed at protecting a fragile recovery threatened by the eurozone crisis, amid divisions over the pace and scale of financial reform.
French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said budgetary consolidation was the “number one priority” as the two-day meeting got under way, overshadowed by a crisis that has roiled financial markets and sent the euro plunging.
“I felt that our partners were somewhat reassured by the mechanisms we put in place,” she told reporters, referring to the European Union’s move to craft a 750 billion-euro (913 billion dollar) rescue plan.
6 SKorea formally asks UN to respond to ship sinking
by Gerard Aziakou, AFP
46 mins ago
|UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – South Korea Friday formally asked the UN Security Council to respond to the sinking of one of its warships allegedly by North Korea despite a threat of retaliation from its communist neighbor.
South Korea’s UN Ambassador Park In-Kook told reporters he handed a letter to council chairman Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller requesting “action by the Security Council commensurate with the gravity of the situation.”
Heller, who is chairing the Security Council this month, told reporters he would start consultations with other council members “to give an appropriate reply.” He did not say when.
7 Afghan jirga calls for peace commission to end war
by Waheedullah Massoud, AFP
26 mins ago
|KABUL (AFP) – Afghan leaders wrapped up a landmark conference in Kabul on Friday by demanding the creation of a powerful commission to implement a peace process after nearly nine years of war with the Taliban.
Some 1,600 delegates from across the political and social spectrum attended the three-day “peace jirga” in a giant tent and came up with a 16-point declaration in which they urged all parties to disarm and reconcile.
Although symbolic, the lasting impact of the jirga, which is a traditional Afghan gathering convened in times of trouble, remains unclear.
8 Injury woes mar World Cup build-up
by Chris Wright, AFP
1 hr 20 mins ago
|PARIS (AFP) – The World Cup injury curse struck with a vengeance on Friday a week before the month-long tournament opens as stars with England, Italy and Ivory Coast suffered mishaps which threaten their participation.
England skipper Rio Ferdinand looked set to miss the event after the Manchester United veteran defender hurt his knee in a training session while Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba fractured his arm in a friendly win over Japan.
Germany’s Michael Ballack, Drogba’s clubmate at Chelsea, is already out of the tournament owing to an ankle injury suffered in the FA Cup final win over Portsmouth.
9 Iraqi cinemas struggle to restore former glory
by Mehdi Lebouachera, AFP
2 hrs 26 mins ago
|BAGHDAD (AFP) – The Atlas film theatre in central Baghdad is a shadow of its former self — its red seats are badly torn and white neon lights flicker constantly, stopping only when a power cut turns them off entirely.
Its clients fill a handful of seats in the massive dusty hall.
The world over, cinema is associated with glitz and glamour but not so in Iraq where the few remaining theatres are largely empty and downtrodden, serving clients accused of seeking Western “perversions”.
10 Japan’s new PM takes power
by Hiroshi Hiyama, AFP
Fri Jun 4, 10:31 am ET
|TOKYO (AFP) – Former finance minister Naoto Kan became Japan’s new leader Friday, pledging economic recovery and close ties with Washington after his predecessor quit amid a damaging dispute over a US air base.
A parliamentary vote confirmed Kan as successor to Yukio Hatoyama, who tearfully resigned as prime minister Wednesday, citing the row over the base on Japan’s Okinawa island and financing scandals that had sullied his government.
Kan, a former leftist activist, is Japan’s fifth premier in four years, and the first in over a decade not to hail from a political dynasty.
11 BP begins capturing some oil from Gulf gusher
By Anna Driver, Reuters
39 mins ago
|VENICE, Louisiana (Reuters) – BP began capturing some oil spewing from a 46-day gusher on Friday after installing a containment cap atop a ruptured Gulf of Mexico well, as tar balls began washing ashore on the Florida coast.
President Barack Obama was making his third trip to the stricken area since the disaster to keep pressure on BP and listen to local residents affected by the disaster.
The crisis is proving to be a monumental test for Obama, who has faced criticism that he has failed to show command or emotion over an oil spill whose impact was dramatized by front-page photographs of oil-covered birds.
12 Florida coast suffers first impact from oil spill
By Jane Ross, Reuters
30 mins ago
|PENSACOLA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) – Gooey tar balls and sticky oil sheen washed ashore on a northwest Florida beach among vacationers and swimmers on Friday in what appeared to be the first impact on the tourism-dependent state from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
In a sign that the impact from the worst U.S. environmental disaster continued to widen, the oil debris came ashore on Pensacola Beach, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore which advertises “the world’s whitest beaches.”
Florida, the “Sunshine State” with a $60 billion-a-year tourism industry, has been bracing for the arrival of oil from the 46-day-old spill, which has already hit the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to the west.
13 Japan ruling party picks Kan for PM before election
By Linda Sieg and Yoko Nishikawa, Reuters
Fri Jun 4, 7:15 am ET
|TOKYO (Reuters) – Finance Minister Naoto Kan, a fiscal conservative with an image as a challenger to the status quo, was elected as Japan’s next premier on Friday, improving the ruling party’s chances in a national election and raising hopes of bolder steps to fix tattered public finances.
Kan, 63, will become Japan’s fifth prime minister in three years, taking the helm as the country struggles to rein in a huge public debt, engineer growth in an aging society, and manage ties with security ally Washington and a rising China.
The Democratic Party of Japan picked Kan by an overwhelming majority to succeed the unpopular Yukio Hatoyama, who quit this week ahead of an upper house poll expected in July that the ruling bloc needs to win to avoid policy deadlock. Kan was later voted in by parliament.
14 Afghan gathering agrees peace moves with Taliban
By Sayed Salahuddin and Hamid Shalizi, Reuters
1 hr 11 mins ago
|KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan tribal elders and religious leaders agreed on Friday to make peace with the Taliban, handing President Hamid Karzai a mandate to open negotiations with the insurgents who are fighting foreign forces and his government.
Karzai had called the “peace jirga” to win national support for his plan to offer an amnesty, cash and job incentives to Taliban foot soldiers while arranging asylum for top figures in a second country and getting their names struck off a U.N. and U.S. blacklist.
“Now the path is clear, the path that has been shown and chosen by you, we will go on that step-by-step and this path will Inshallah, take us to our destination,” he told the delegates gathered in a tent under heavy security.
15 McDonald’s recalls 13.4 million "Shrek" drinking glasses
By Ben Klayman, Reuters
7 mins ago
|DETROIT (Reuters) – McDonald’s Corp has recalled at least 13.4 million “Shrek”-themed drinking glasses in the United States and Canada after consumers were warned to stop using them because they contain the toxic metal cadmium.
Cadmium was found in the painted design of the movie characters on the glassware, which McDonald’s outlets sold for about $2 each, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Canada’s health ministry Health Canada.
The recall affected 12 million glasses in the United States and at least another 1.3 million in Canada, according to McDonald’s.
16 Cap collects some Gulf oil; crude washes into Fla.
By MELISSA NELSON and JAY REEVES, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 12 mins ago
|PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. – Waves of gooey tar balls crashed into the white sands of the Florida Panhandle on Friday as BP engineers adjusted a sophisticated cap over the Gulf oil gusher, trying to collect the crude now fouling four states.
Even though the inverted funnel-like device was set over the leak late Thursday, crude continued to spew into the sea in the nation’s worst oil spill. Engineers hoped to close several open vents on the cap throughout the day in the latest attempt to contain the oil.
As they worked on the system underwater, the effect of the BP spill was widely seen. Swimmers at Pensacola Beach rushed out the water after wading into the mess while children played with it on the shore and others inspected the clumps with fascination, some taking pictures. Brown pelicans coated in chocolate syrup-like oil flailed and struggled in the surf on a Louisiana island, where the beached was stained in hues of rust and crimson, much like the color of drying blood.
17 BP spill forces choice between ecology and economy
By JAY REEVES and MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writers
Thu Jun 3, 11:30 pm ET
|GULF SHORES, Ala. – Forced to perform a painful kind of environmental triage, emergency workers concentrated on protecting marshes and inlets from the approaching BP oil slick Thursday and left one of the Gulf Coast’s biggest tourist attractions – its white-sand beaches – largely undefended.
As BP struggled a mile underwater to cut and cap the blown-out well, the decision to sacrifice parts of the shoreline – made weeks ago by state and Coast Guard officials – came under fire from Alabama’s governor.
“We could lose an entire tourist season because of this. It would be absolutely devastating,” Gov. Bob Riley said in an interview with The Associated Press. The state’s two coastal counties deliver 35 percent of its tourism dollars, mostly spending by beachgoers.
18 Gulf spill workers complaining of flulike symptoms
By NOAKI SCHWARTZ and MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press Writers
Thu Jun 3, 7:25 pm ET
|NEW ORLEANS – For days now, Dr. Damon Dietrich and other physicians have seen patients come through their emergency room at West Jefferson Medical Center with similar symptoms: respiratory problems, headaches and nausea.
In the past week, 11 workers who have been out on the water cleaning up oil from BP’s blown-out well have been treated for what Dietrich calls “a pattern of symptoms” that could have been caused by the burning of crude oil, noxious fumes from the oil or the dispersants dumped in the Gulf to break it up. All workers were treated and released.
“One person comes in, it could be multiple things,” he said. “Eleven people come in with these symptoms, it makes it incredibly suspicious.”
19 Disappointing jobs report sends stocks tumbling
By STEPHEN BERNARD, AP Business Writer
4 mins ago
|NEW YORK – Stocks are extending their slide after the Labor Department said hiring remains weak and Hungary became the latest European country to report its economy is in crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 300 points in late afternoon trading Friday. All the major indexes are down more than 3 percent.
The Labor Department says private employers hired just 41,000 jobs in May, down dramatically from 218,000 in April.
20 Economy adds 431K jobs but few in private sector
By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer
Fri Jun 4, 11:03 am ET
|WASHINGTON – Job creation by private companies grew at the slowest pace of the year in May, even while the hiring of temporary census workers drove overall payrolls up 431,000. The unemployment rate dipped to 9.7 percent as many people gave up searching for work.
The Labor Department’s new employment snapshot released Friday suggested that outside of the burst of hiring of temporary census workers by the federal government many private employers are wary of bulking up their work forces.
That indicates the economic recovery may not bring relief fast enough for millions of Americans who are unemployed.
21 McDonald’s pulls 12M cadmium-tainted Shrek glasses
By JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press Writer
2 hrs 59 mins ago
|LOS ANGELES – Cadmium has been discovered in the painted design on “Shrek”-themed drinking glasses being sold nationwide at McDonald’s, forcing the burger giant to recall 12 million of the cheap U.S.-made collectibles while dramatically expanding contamination concerns about the toxic metal beyond imported children’s jewelry.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which announced the voluntary recall early Friday, warned consumers to immediately stop using the glasses; McDonald’s said it would post instructions on its website next week regarding refunds.
The 16-ounce glasses, being sold for about $2 each as part of a promotional campaign for the movie “Shrek Forever After,” were available in four designs depicting the characters Shrek, Princess Fiona, Puss in Boots and Donkey.
22 Japan’s new leader faces test to win back voters
By MALCOLM FOSTER, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 34 mins ago
|TOKYO – Naoto Kan, the straight-talking populist named Japan’s new prime minister Friday, faces a host of daunting tasks, from reviving the nation’s stagnant economy to cutting back its ballooning national debt.
But first he must survive an urgent, make-or-break test: Win back voters disgusted by the broken promises of his predecessor, Yukio Hatoyama, by next month’s upper house elections.
Decisive and down-to-earth, Kan may have just what it takes to regain support for the battered Democratic Party of Japan, analysts say.
23 Pope on 3-day visit to Cyprus
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer
2 hrs 3 mins ago
|PAPHOS, Cyprus – Greek Cypriot leaders made a blistering attack on Turkey for its occupation of northern Cyprus as Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage to the divided island Friday bringing a message of peace to the region.
Addressing Benedict, the head of Cyprus’ Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II said that “Turkey has barbarously invaded and conquered by force of arms 37 percent of our homeland.”
Chrysostomos said that Turkey “continues to carry out its obscure plans which include the annexation of the land now under military occupation, and then a conquest of the whole of Cyprus.”
24 Kobe spurs Lakers past Celtics in finals opener
By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
Fri Jun 4, 7:57 am ET
|LOS ANGELES – Ron Artest proved it in his opening-minute scuffle with Paul Pierce, tumbling to the ground with a vise grip on the Celtics star’s elbow.
Kobe Bryant emphasized it one last time with a rub-it-in 3-pointer in the waning seconds of an NBA finals opener that was already a rout.
These aren’t the same Los Angeles Lakers who got pushed around by their biggest rivals on the NBA’s biggest stage two years ago. They’re rougher and tougher – and surprisingly willing to play the Boston Celtics’ bad-tempered game.
25 Ariz. Gov. Brewer wants separating fence completed
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE and SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press Writers
Fri Jun 4, 1:49 am ET
|WASHINGTON – Facing off over illegal immigration, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer told President Barack Obama that Americans “want our border secured” and called Thursday for completion of a separating fence. Obama underscored his objections that the tough immigration law she signed is discriminatory.
Meeting in the Oval Office, Obama said Arizona’s law and similar efforts by more than 20 states would interfere with the federal government’s responsibility to set and enforce immigration policy.
Neither side appeared to give ground on the contentious issue although both talked about seeking a bipartisan solution.
26 White House defends dealmaking in political races
By CHARLES BABINGTON and PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writers
Fri Jun 4, 7:55 am ET
|WASHINGTON – The White House scrambled Thursday to explain new revelations of political dealmaking, defending attempts to steer state primary races but saying the president was unaware an aide had urged a Colorado Democrat to seek a federal job rather than run.
With Republicans denouncing “Chicago-style politics” and accusing President Barack Obama of breaking his clean-politics promises, White House aides mustered a multi-pronged response. The White House has the right to try to avoid messy Democratic primaries, they said, but Obama leaves the details to underlings. They also offered more information about the Colorado Senate matter after being accused of trying to hush a similar Pennsylvania episode that broke wider open last week.
Presidents, as leaders of their parties, “have long had an interest in ensuring that supporters didn’t run against each other in contested elections,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said. But when it comes to personally persuading a candidate to step aside, he said, Obama “is not aware of the individual circumstances.”
27 Kirk apologizes for misstating military record
By DEANNA BELLANDI, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 4, 12:33 am ET
|CHICAGO – Senate candidate Mark Kirk apologized Thursday for making inaccurate statements about his service in the Navy Reserves, while acknowledging more discrepancies.
“I apologize to everyone for these errors,” the Illinois Republican said. “They were my responsibility entirely and I will fix them.”
The five-time U.S. representative, who is competing with Democrat Alexi Giannoulias for the Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama, also acknowledged new incidents where public statements didn’t match reality about his service.
28 Former eBay CEO rewrites campaign spending book
By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer
8 mins ago
|SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Chartered jets that offer “white glove service,” fancy fundraisers in Beverly Hills and beyond, and enough high-priced political consultants to fill an auditorium.
Those are a few of billionaire Meg Whitman’s favorite things as she carries out her remarkably lavish campaign for California governor.
Whitman’s top political consultant, Mike Murphy, makes $90,000 a month. A crew of videographers and the former White House photographer chronicle her stops around the Golden State. She bought an entire TV channel at the host hotel during the state convention while hiring consultants from Florida to Los Angeles to help her blanket the airwaves with a never-ending stream of advertising.
29 EPA seeks thorough review of NY animal lab site
By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 1 min ago
|GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – A federal review of the proposed sale of a remote island housing an animal disease laboratory must include a study of any impact lab testing had on the environment, as well as consideration of endangered bird species found there, two EPA officials said this week.
“Any potential contamination threats to public health and the environment associated with the existing disease research facility should also be evaluated along with appropriate remediation or removal actions,” Environmental Protection Agency regional administrators Judith Enck and H. Curtis Spalding wrote in a June 2 letter provided by the EPA to The Associated Press.
Access to Plum Island, off New York’s Long Island, is restricted to the approximately 300 scientists and support staff working at the lab, although officials have allowed the media and public officials to visit on various occasions. Audubon New York volunteers have also been provided access to do research on the bird population there.
30 10 advance to finals of National Spelling Bee
1 hr 8 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – Ten spellers have advanced to the finals of the 83rd Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The spellers are all that remained from the 273 that began the week at the competition in Washington, D.C.
Forty-eight advanced to the semifinals Friday morning, and they were whittled down to the group that will compete for the winner’s trophy Friday night.
31 Marines return to roots with Calif. beach-storming
By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press Writer
2 hrs 21 mins ago
|CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Marines have landed.
About 5,000 Marines and Navy sailors completed the largest amphibious exercise on the West Coast since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Brig. Gen. Rex McMillan complimented the effort Friday as he stood on a bluff at Camp Pendleton watching a dozen seafaring tanks hit the Southern California beach with their company helicopters.
32 Legally, many US hotels lack fire sprinklers
By BOB JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 4, 7:30 am ET
|MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A fast-moving fire that killed four college students in a suburban Birmingham motel illustrates a deadly problem facing travelers around the country: Many older hotels and motels can legally avoid installing sprinklers that stop blazes before they kill guests.
Since a catastrophic fire killed 87 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas in 1980, a national push to require sprinkler systems in new hotels and motels has helped bring fire deaths down significantly.
Yet federal officials say an estimated 3,900 hotel and motel fires are reported to U.S. fire departments each year, causing on average 15 deaths, 150 injuries and $76 million in property loss. The National Fire Protection Association says it’s rare for a guest to die when a fire breaks out in a room with sprinklers, and that there hasn’t been a documented fire in a sprinklered hotel that killed more than one person.
33 Pa. eatery stirs interest in nations in conflict
By JENNIFER C. YATES, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 4, 6:32 am ET
|PITTSBURGH – The takeout restaurant with its bright blue storefront and large, sunny yellow lettering sits among a city block of plain white brick buildings. There’s no place to sit, and there’s only one item on the menu: a wrap sandwich from Iran called a kubideh.
In a few months, the menu will change to food from Afghanistan, then perhaps North Korea.
This is Conflict Kitchen, a takeout cafe designed and run by artists hoping to start conversations with customers about countries in conflict with the U.S.
34 SC police: Black man shot to death, body dragged
By SUSANNE M. SCHAFER, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 3, 6:54 pm ET
|NEWBERRY, S.C. – Two men who worked at a South Carolina poultry processing plant had spent most of the day together Tuesday, hanging out late into the evening, maybe rehashing their long shifts.
By the next morning, one of the men – who was black – was dead, shot to death and then dragged behind a pickup truck for more than 10 miles down a country road. The other – a white man – was in jail, charged with murder, and authorities were investigating the death as a possible hate crime.
“We’ve not been able to rule that out,” Reggie Lloyd, chief of the State Law Enforcement Division, said Thursday. “You have to chase that down, as an angle of this.”
35 US backs off plan to take Vt. farm for border port
By JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 3, 6:41 pm ET
|MONTPELIER, Vt. – Score one for David. Goliath decided it just wasn’t worth the fight.
The federal government has decided to close a tiny U.S.-Canada border station rather than push ahead with a controversial plan to expand it by seizing a dairy farmer’s land, officials announced Thursday.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection had sought to renovate the sleepy Morses Line port of entry in Franklin – which gets about 2 1/2 vehicles an hour – by seizing a 2.2-acre parcel from the Rainville family dairy farm, which adjoins the station.
36 High school students face hard lesson in economics
By TERENCE CHEA and CHRISTINE ARMARIO, Associated Press Writers
Thu Jun 3, 2:50 pm ET
|SAN JOSE, Calif. – Students graduating from high school this spring may be collecting their diplomas just in time, leaving institutions that are being badly weakened by the nation’s economic downturn.
Across the country, mass layoffs of teachers, counselors and other staff members – caused in part by the drying up of federal stimulus dollars – are leading to larger classes and reductions in everything that is not a core subject, including music, art, clubs, sports and other after-school activities.
Educators and others worry the cuts could lead to higher dropout rates and lower college attendance as students receive less guidance and become less engaged in school. They fear a generation of young people could be left behind.